Red mittens and a perilous bike ride through the snow. On the way home, a little boy in a hat throwing chunks of baguette at the ducks sitting on the large glass shards of ice patterning the canal.
A cold snap always creates a certain cameraderie, a common enemy to complain about. My colleagues arrive in the morning, shivering and repeating samui, samui. Then we take turns to open the oven and stand in front of it. (I like the snow more than they do, ran up the kitchen stairs to watch the snowflakes instead of filling choux puffs.)
In the absence of a fireplace, I like to warm my hands around a large spotted mug. Normally tea, but sometimes butterbeer is more appropriate. Just the word sounds like a snowstorm and golden firelight.
Watch the hot cider fizz and the icecream disappear in a cloud of spiced foam. Like a tankard of mead in a comfortable pub. Like melting snowflakes.
Apple and cinnamon butterbeer
from Oh Comely magazine
makes 6 large mugs
500ml vanilla icecream, softened
70g dark brown sugar
55g butter, also soft
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 litre apple cider (the alcoholic kind)
Cream butter sugar and spices. When fluffy, stir in the vanilla icecream, then refreeze for an hour or so.
Warm a mug of cider each (either in a big saucepan or individually in a microwave). Not too hot, or the alcohol will disappear. Top each cider with a scoop of spiced icecream and sip as it melts.